After a short break, the Masada Marathon continues with an interview featuring one of the most important figures in Masada mythology. An influential presence throughout the project’s storied history, Cyro Baptista has been collaborating with John Zorn – in his own words – since “the construction of the pyramids”.
A true veteran of the adventurous music scene, this legendary percussionist is one of the most accomplished, versatile and imaginative musicians in the world today.
In spite of a hectic travel schedule, Cyro was kind enough to answer my questions via e-mail. Big thanks to Eleonora Alberto for making the conversation possible!
Let’s start with a fun one. I remember my first Masada experience, seeing a video of an Electric Masada performance at Jazz in Marciac. My strongest memory from that concert was your percussion and those wild instruments, many of which I know you build yourself. You’ve been doing it since you were a kid. Do you have a favorite self-made instrument?
No! I don’t have a favorite instrument…all of them are part of my family, they all have their special qualities and different personalities. They are there to help me create a sonic landscape. In the case of Electric Masada, some of the percussion instruments were chosen by Zorn himself.
I was watching a video recently where you were discussing the notion of anthropofagia and how you consume certain creative and intellectual influences to make them part of who you are. You are a musician who has collaborated with so many artists over the years, from Herbie Hancock and Yo-Yo Ma to Paul Simon and Sting. What are some of your dream collaborations for the future? In other words, whom would you like to “eat” next?
Oh… my God! Everything is going so frantic and at a tragic pace in the music environment at this point in time. I’m going to have an indigestion. I did many collaborations with very special people, some very famous, others not so famous … it doesn’t matter. They all went into my blender and turned into a precious juice. Right now, they live in my blood stream and they keep me alive.
You are truly one of the Masada veterans. How did you first get involved in the project and how has your experience with Masada changed throughout the years?
I’ve been together with John Zorn since the construction of the pyramids! Masada came later, after many other extravagant adventures that we invented together.
Masada was John, Dave, Joey and Greg. They were the seed and the roots. It was a combination of trust, a lot of talent, amazing compositions and impeccable management. They laid a solid foundation, everything that came after that was built on top of that conception. To be playing on Masada with Zorn was an experience of total commitment and dedication.
Please tell me a bit about the creative process behind Yesod and the transition from Caym to Yesod.
Banquet of The Spirits!!! Our first album: “Anthropofagia“ empowered us to fiercely explore into a universe of sonic possibilities.
Caym took Zorn’s compositions on a kaleidoscopic voyage through the planet. Yesod is the most organic of them. We recorded the melodies and simpler harmonies, precisely the way it was written by Zorn.
What are some of your favorite Masada records in the project’s twenty-five-year history? Are there any albums that hold a special significance to you?
No doubt, for me, Bar Kokhba & all the Electric Masada are very fond experiences engraved in my heart.
Could you talk to me a bit about what Masada means to you on a personal level?
Ikue Mori &
They will be my brothers for eternity. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for these fine human beings. It was an amazing ride through time and space.
With Yesod scheduled for a July release for now, what is on the horizon for this and next year?
Next stop will be in Sarajevo. Looking forward to it!